Aphids and Disease

Red Aphids

Red Aphids

Aphids are a concern in many crops because of their ability to transmit viruses. Aphid mouthparts drill through a plant’s protective tissues and insert their mouthparts directly into the phloem. When an aphid feeds, it can acquire viruses from infected plants. If the aphid flies to another plant it can spread the virus. The virus by itself may not be able to infect a plant because the outer plant tissue is a barrier. Aphids bypass the barrier and inject viruses directly into the plant phloem along with saliva.

In some types of transmission, the virus adheres to the aphid mouthparts and is flushed into the plant with the aphid saliva. Some viruses infect both plants and aphids. A virus acquired by an aphid can pass through its midgut, enter its salivary gland and reproduce in the saliva secretory cells. In this case many copies of a virus may be produced in a single aphid and injected into multiple plants. Roughly 80% of all plant viruses are transmitted by insects. Many of them by aphids.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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One Response to Aphids and Disease

  1. Pingback: Aphids: Vectors of Disease

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